Some notes from a colleague about the terrible wild fire in Israel, I will try to post updates as I get them here...
I have been asked to provide an update on the Carmel Forest fire.
The situation as of 10.30 PM local time Thursday (3.30 PM New York) is as follows:
- Thousands of acres of forest and bush land have been destroyed. Given a winter in which virtually no rain has fallen, the vegetation is particularly dry.
- Some 40 trainee prison guards were burned to death when their bus caught fire on the way to evacuate inmates from a prison in the area.
- Fire fighters are hard put to cope with the situation and have run out of chemicals to extinguish the flames. Helicopters are unable to operate at night to put out the fires with water scooped from the Mediterranean Sea.
- Fire fighting teams have been brought in from all over the country to relieve the teams from the Haifa area and help is also on its way from Cyprus, Greece and Bulgaria.
- Kibbutz Beit Oren has been badly damaged and some 10,000 Israelis have been evacuated from their homes, including from Ein Hod, where our colleague Rabbi Bob Samuels lives with his wife, Annette. (I understand that they are currently overseas.)
- Haifa University has also been evacuated together with parts of Tirat el Carmel. The Haifa district of Denia may also have to be evacuated.
- Currently, the fires are not under control and there are fears that they could continue to wreak havoc throughout the weekend.
- The forecast for Friday (tomorrow) is for strong easterly winds that will make the fire fighters' work even more difficult.
- It has been suggested that the fires were started on purpose, but it is too early to confirm this.
- The results of this awful tragedy are already described as being worse than from a terrorist incident.
I am afraid this is not a very happy Chanukah for us here in Israel as several of those hurt in the fires fight for their lives....
Here's a link to support Israel through the fire directly:
Jewish Federation Fire Aid